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New Mississippi River Bridge Project Shutdown Averted, For Now

Brian Kelly
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EAST ST. LOUIS (KMOX)-There’s renewed hope that the threatened shutdown of the Mississippi River Bridge Construction project by contractors and workers seeking more minority jobs on the project, has been averted.

East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks says “significant progress” was made on several fronts during a meeting Friday that included Governor Pat Quinn, by phone, and the governor’s diversity director, in person. Parks told a crowd in his city hall conference room,  “There are several issues that are being worked upon, being addressed by the governor’s office to continue moving the numbers upward when it comes to minority participation and most importantly what that means, and especially for many of the people in this room, is finding ways to put the people to work.”

Some of the workers who packed the room wore shirts reading “Stop IDOT Racism”. Many had planned to shut down the project this morning after little progress had been made in three previous meetings, but that was put off so today’s meeting could be held.

Parks says one key is a promise by Quinn’s office to pressure contractors to demand that unions send them more black workers, “What we want to do is we make sure that we say,  ‘Please look for black and other minority workers out of these unions,” that’s one step. The second step is make sure we’re talking to contractors who are looking for jobs in the future to say the same thing.”

Despite the progress some members of the Metro East Black Contractors Organization were still calling for a shutdown, but MEBCO Attorney Eric Vickers said now is not the time for such an action, “The only reason why we are not moving right now is because the Governor’s office has shown itself to be involved and to be committed to making some things happen, and we said that needs to happen right away.”

MEBCO President, Dr. Bill Mason said the reason they were going to shut down the project, is to get the attention of state officials, and he says they now have their attention.

But Parks says if there is no agreement next Thursday, a new shutdown date could be set.

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